Monday, May 29, 2017

Diaries and Memories Both Good And Bad

(Written by Jeff Lemlich)

I did a very smart thing, back when I was 11 years old.   I also did something kind of stupid.   I started keeping a diary.

That was smart, because thousands of memories from my past are now at my fingertips.

That was stupid, for the same reason.

Just the other day I couldn’t remember the name of one of my teachers, and reached for my 1975 journal, hoping her name was on one of the pages.   Thankfully, it was, putting an end to something that was starting to drive me bonkers.  That’s when having my life story written in ancient Flair pens really made me happy… but at the same time, I glanced at some of the other things I had written in that journal.

Ugh – was that really me?   How could I have had so many prejudices?   Did I really think I was smarter than everyone else?  How could I have had so little empathy?

I struggle to forgive the child that I used to be, and those journal entries make me cringe even more.   Yet I realize where those prejudices and the lack of empathy stemmed from.    Years of being put down and bullied made me think my being “different” made me a freak, so it was natural that I’d try to see others as the freaks.  Sometimes I put my pain into words, and other times I just buried it deep, deep, deep down inside.  It’s the sort of thing that I’d love to forget, but again, there it is on paper… reminding me of the crap that I went through, and the crap that it put into my head.

That isn’t the only drawback to journaling.   If I’m angry at someone or something, I should put it in my journal, right?  Well, what will happen 10, 15, 20 years later, if someone I know comes across it and reads it?   Wouldn’t that just reopen old wounds that have healed eons ago?    Is it better to cross out the bad parts and just try to remember the good, or would doing so further skew the truth and present a warped and maybe even dangerous view of how things were?

Despite all this, I am grateful to have noted so many places, people, and events.   I have a linear memory, and can tell you the date when almost anything in my life happened.   The more I read my journals, the more I remember… but are things really supposed to be that way?   Aren’t we supposed to live and learn, and forgive and forget?
I don’t have the answer.  I just know that my old journals – despite the bad memories – are precious to me.   I hate forgetting things, even the things that would best be obliterated from my mind.    It beats racking my brain trying to remember things, such as the name of that long-forgotten teacher from my past.  

Memories are very important to me, and I love helping others remember names, dates, and songs (especially songs).   I can write a lot more about that if you liked this guest blog post.    Leave a comment if you’d like to read more, and if the response is good, I just might make it happen.

- Jeff (

Guest Blogger
Avid Vinyl Record Collector
Male Survivor of Child Abuse

Visit Jeff's website at


Blog Post And Images (c) 2017 by Don Shetterly
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  1. I started keeping diaries when I was 10. I can't find the really old ones, but have a box of the journals I kept in my troubled early 20's. I have to be in a brave mood to read them, but I'm glad I have them. I loved this post. Please write more!

    1. Thanks Wendy. I appreciate the feedback, as always. I see in my 1975 journal that we first met on Thursday, January 23, 1975. The next day you gave me Slade's "Play It Loud" album... and I did!

  2. Love this! You write so well. Definitely looking forward to reading more. I was recently given boxes of stuff I wrote and did as a child from a family member. Unfortunately I threw it all out...I was going through such a bad time, I threw out a lot of other stuff too. I feel sad now that it is gone.

    1. I think I get "negative pleasure" out of remembering the bad times. In a way, we need to remember the times when we were hurting, and the ways that we got out of it.






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